Meet the Dutch Ashoka Fellows

Meet the Dutch Ashoka Fellows

Are you curious about the incredible social innovators we have in the Netherlands? Keep reading and learn more about our Dutch Ashoka Fellows!

Our first fellow was selected in 2009, and we are proud to say that over the past few years, we have managed to greatly expand and develop our fellow base. The Dutch community of fellows now consists of 11 incredible Changemakers, and we are always on the lookout for new innovators to join our community.


Dennis Karpes | Ashoka Fellow since 2009

Committed to creating a future world where more citizens are willing and prepared to play an active role in solving social problems, Dennis leads by example. An Ashoka Fellow since 2009, he was elected for his work with Dance4Life: an organisation that empowers young people to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to develop healthy sexual choices in their youth years. This critical mass has dramatically shifted the image and experience of youth in 20 countries and has potential to deeply redefine teenage years around the world in the years to come. 

Dennis is a serial-social entrepreneur who has initiated countless projects prior to his fellowship election with Ashoka, and many more since. His most recent endeavour is called Justdiggit: a landscape restoration organisation with a vision to cool down the planet. 

Dennis Karpes


Lucas Simons | Ashoka Fellow since 2012

Lucas’s passion and background in the field of sustainable development led him to build the successful ScopeInsight initiative, for which he was elected as an Ashoka Fellow. By creating a tool for rating and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of medium-sized agricultural producers, Lucas has enabled previously disparate stakeholders to communicate with a common language and standards of information, and has increased access to financial products for the agricultural sector within low-income countries. Through Scopeinsight, Lucas provides direct and tangible information to farmers, pinpointing their strengths and identifying areas for improvement.

Lucas Simons


Jos de Blok | Ashoka Fellow since 2015

Dissatisfied with the delivery of healthcare by traditional home-care organizations in the Netherlands, Jos decided to create a new model anchored on the self-management capacity of nursing professionals, ultimately creating a more responsive, patient-centric system providing better quality care. In the long run, the model enables the patient to maintain independence from costly institutionalized care.

His model has become widely successful in the Netherlands and is scaling to numerous different countries. In 2014, Jos received The Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), following Marie (Madam) Curie, Stephen Hawking, and the likes, for his work as the founder of Buurtzorg: a transformational new model of community healthcare.

Jos de Blok


Noa Lodeizen | Ashoka fellow since 2015

Noa was elected as a fellow for her work with Young in Prison (YiP): an international network of YiP member organizations that work towards changing the way the world perceives juvenile justice and carries out juvenile reformation. Understanding that youth offenders are in a vital period of development in their lives, YiP works on giving real opportunities of rehabilitation and social reintegration to children.

Whether it is working in the Dutch Ashoka team or building new global initiatives, Noa keeps system-change at the heart of everything she does.

Noa Lodeizen


Joost van Engen | Ashoka Fellow since 2016

As an employee at the IDA foundation, Joost gained experience in the provision of essential drugs and medical supplies to NGOs and governments in 139 countries. However fulfilling, he found the job to be equally frustrating, when medicine did not reach those who were in desperate need. This happened all too frequently and to solve it, he founded "Healthy Entrepreneurs".

By innovating a truly sustainable supply chain, Joost van Engen is creating sustainable access to essential medicines, hygiene products and supplements for low income families in remote areas, while at the same time providing health education and basic health consultation, improving overall the quality of their daily lives.

Joost van Engen


Bas van Abel | Ashoka Fellow since 2016

Bas is an artist; he can combine hard skills such as mathematics, scientific thinking and programming with a very playful and creative approach to life while still having far reaching pragmatic capabilities in his entrepreneurship. And he has managed to market a product that tells a significant story: Fairphone. 

By designing and producing the first modular designed and longer-lasting smartphone, and by building a conflict-free and fair supply and production chain, Bas van Abel is creating a movement of ethical consumption while shifting the smartphone industry - one of the most complex supply chains - towards ethical production and complete transparency, fuelling change instead of conflict.

Bas van Abel


Emer Beamer | Ashoka fellow since 2017

As Emer likes to say: “Children are the last frontier of emancipation”. She devotes her work to children showing them they are important, deserving attention and should be taken seriously. She strongly believes that education should give value to children's ideas which will not only allow them to find their place in the world as they grow but also force adults to reflect on themselves and the ways in which they are shaping our world.

Grounded on design thinking and viewing the child as a complete human being endowed with great creative capacity, Emer Beamer's learning method, Designathon Works, enables teachers to tap into the natural space of play within children to stimulate their interest and engagement in social issues and challenge them to design solutions using modern technology.

Emer Beamer


Barbara Muller | Ashoka Fellow since 2017

By creating innovative safe spaces for traumatised mothers to leave their newborns, Barbara Muller, with her initiative "het Babyhuis", is building and promoting the continuous relationship between mothers and children, and in the longer term, supporting the return of both in a safe living environment. 

In the Netherlands, mothers who anonymously leave their newborn babies can face up to 12 years of jail with a fine of up to 82.000€. But leaving newborns at Barbara's safe spaces has been granted legal and mothers are no longer punished! 

Barmara Muller


Geert van der Veer | Ashoka Fellow since 2017

Based on a model of collective ownership, Geert, with his initiative "Herenboeren", is placing the use of farm land back in to the hands of local communities. By creating an alternative system for food production compared to the industrialised one, Geert showcases to the world how agriculture can respect the land, the animals and nature. Geert is driving agricultural innovation and dialogue with his movement!

Geert van der Veer


Aart van Veller | Ashoka Fellow since 2017

Aart is a leading example of innovation in action. He has revolutionised the consumption of renewable energy, empowering both consumers and producers by making green energy accessible and affordable to everyone. His company, Vandebron, was chosen as the number 1 energy company by the Dutch Association for Consumers. They are growing exponentially, and they are doing it well!


Wietse van der Werf | Ashoka fellow since 2018

Wietse is the founder and CEO of the Sea Ranger Service, which has been established to revolutionize ocean conservation. His model combines the empowerment of unemployed youths and re-integration of navy veterans to provide a concrete solution to severe global human capacity shortages in the monitoring of the world’s 11,800 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which are increasingly being affected by illegal fishing, plastic pollution and climate change. 

Wietse has been rapidly scaling his organisation and he is literally making waves!

Wietse van der Werf